“People don’t know how dark it really was,” says Justin Bieber in the documentary series “Seasons” that runs on Youtube. For a while, security guards regularly came to his hotel room to check his pulse, the pop star says. Then he climbs into an oxygen tent that is supposed to give him new energy.
Early fame, steep crash
“Seasons” shows how much Justin Bieber’s early glory and rapid crash marked him. At the age of 13, YouTube became famous and quickly became one of the most successful pop stars worldwide. But then scandal followed scandal. In 2017 Bieber broke off his “Purpose” world tour prematurely and withdrew from the public. He now speaks openly about his darkest years on Instagram and in the ten-part YouTube series. He tells of physical and mental illness, drug abuse and thoughts of suicide. However, nothing can be heard of Justin Bieber’s fragility and thoughtfulness on his new album “Changes”, which is intended to promote the series. It is his first after a break of over four years.
“Changes” mainly consists of smoothly produced tracks, somewhere between pop, electro and R&B. Bieber’s soft voice, which shines particularly in high registers, is robbed of all emotions by autotune on most tracks. Some songs still make you feel good. “Forever”, for example, on which Bieber sings together with the US rapper Post Malone on a light, cloudy electro beat. For the most part, however, his comeback album sounds despondent and withdrawn.
Wedding after a few months
It is dedicated to Bieber’s wife, model Hailey Baldwin. In 2019, he married Baldwin after a few months of relationship. She is shown on the album and in his documentary series as a savior. A woman who patiently endures all of his moods and finally lets him get back to his old size. Since his withdrawal from the public eye, the singer has also found God. Bieber is one of the most famous faces of the Hillsong Evangelical hipster church.
The lyrics that were produced by an army of songwriters are foreign to shame. They sound like a series of Instagram sayings about love. On the sugary “intentions” Bieber even sings that his wife is so beautiful that she doesn’t need Instagram filters for her selfies. “Our feelings, they go deep, deeper than the touching / Deeper than the ocean”, enthuses Bieber in the song “Habitual”.
In the slow-jam “ETA”, dominated by an electric guitar, the ocean is used again as a metaphor: “I was born ready for you / Skin sweeter than cinnamon / Eyes deeper than the ocean.” If “Changes” shows one thing, then how difficult it is to sing singly about being in love. It gets worse when Bieber ponders about sex or religion. At the end of the title track, the guitar ballad “Changes”, Bieber announces in a deadly serious voice: “People change, circumstances change / But God always remains the same.”
Justin Bieber himself seems to be aware of the weaknesses of his album. “I didn’t go deep with it,” he says in an interview. In January, on his social media channels, he begged his fans to make the first single “Yummy” number one in the USA, complete with all instructions. So his fans should run the single on Spotify continuously at low volume, even at night. It didn’t help, “Yummy” only ended up in second place.
Unfortunately only 2nd place
“Changes” is particularly disappointing because pop music has changed in recent years. Ariana Grande processed on her great album “Sweetener” the terrorist attack on her concert in Manchester, in which 23 people died. On the record she sings about how it feels to experience a panic attack and how she has found herself again.
Justin Bieber’s ex-girlfriend, singer and actress Selena Gomez, also dared more on her recently released album “Rare”. She then covers not only the end of her ten-year relationship with Bieber, but also depression and the claim to herself to remain vulnerable. Pop has become deeper. Someone should tell Justin Bieber and his team (“Changes” by Justin Bieber has been published by Def Jam / Universal).